Even in the age of Evite, the formal mailed wedding invitation remains the favored method to announce an upcoming marriage and encourage others to join in the celebration. If you think about it from a marketing standpoint, it is one of the most expensive direct mail solicitation packages targeting consumers. The happy couple and their parents want people to open the expensive mail, read it, and respond with an RSVP, and usually arrive wearing proper attire.
Which brings me to how it can Fail: Addressing the invitations. Too often, people neglect to double-check addresses. If you haven’t communicated in three years with that second cousin, she might have moved.
Another more common Fail with fancy invitations is legibility. I recently received an invitation addressed to someone else because the calligrapher got so fancy, the postal service couldn’t figure out the address. There was confusion between “I” and “7” , “S” and “5”, as well as “4” and “9”. I tried bringing it to a local post office. A clerk attempted to identify the correct address, but he eventually gave up and he marked it “Return to Sender”. If the sender had used a zip+4 with readable numbers, the invitation might have arrived at the correct address. Instead, someone will not receive their invitation – and anyone who ever got married knows the kind of problems that result from that.
Lesson: Maintain your address list even for personal contacts, and include the zip+4. Be sure your addresses are readable by Postal Service automated systems, or at least by a human being.